Hotel California

Marlena Chertock

There’s a line of people in the hotel lobby,
they’re handcuffed, filing into the basement prison.
The hotel owner stares at you when he thinks you’re not looking.
When you try to leave, he pushes himself in between the check-out clerk
and you. He invites you to cocktails. You slap him on the back.

If you get too close to the line you’re shocked,
your whole body numbs and you crumple to the floor.
There’s a paper there that says, “get over the fatigue, get over
the fatigue.” And you read it over and over to yourself,
unable to move until you start feeling tingles in your fingers.

There’s a strange trial under the hotel,
The people don’t have attorneys but can read a letter
expressing themselves. There is no judge in the courtroom,
and everyone talks over them.
You want to hear their letters, so you stand up and shout,
and they all shake their heads.

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